Consequences for Failure to Complete Code of Ethics Training

This page sets forth frequently asked questions and answers concerning failure to complete Code of Ethics Training, and is an excerpt of enforcement-related FAQs on the Code of Ethics training requirement.

What are the consequences of membership suspension?

The Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual as amended by the NAR Board of Directors at the 2004 Midyear meeting, defines “suspension”, in relevant part, as

…suspension of all Board/Association-provided membership rights, privileges and services (including those provided by the State and National Association) not available to nonmembers for a period of not less than thirty (30) days and not longer than one year, on terms and conditions expressly stated for an established period of time, including use of the terms REALTOR® and REALTOR-ASSOCIATE® with automatic reinstatement of all withdrawn membership rights, privileges and services at the end of the period of suspension. The thirty (30) day minimum and one year maximum do not apply where suspension is imposed for a remediable violation of a membership duty (e.g. failure to pay dues or failure to complete educational requirements)...

The provisions go on to discuss the fact that membership - including the duties to abide by the Code of Ethics and to pay association dues - continues during the term of suspension.

What this means for a REALTOR® who is suspended for not meeting the REALTORS® Ethics Training Requirement is that all the rights, privileges and services she is entitled to receive because she is a REALTOR® are suspended until she satisfies the training requirement. If she meets the requirement the next day, then her rights, privileges and services are restored the next day. While suspended, though, her obligation to abide by the Code of Ethics continues, as does the obligation to pay dues.

At the May 2005 Midyear Meetings of the National Association of REALTORS®, the NAR Board of Directors amended policy to provide that members suspended for failing to meet the REALTORS® ethics training requirement would subsequently be automatically terminated from membership if they did not complete their training.

What are the consequences of membership suspension on MLS access?

Suspension of REALTOR® membership will, in most instances, have no effect on MLS participatory or user/subscriber privileges. Licensees affiliated with MLS Participants have subscriber/user rights irrespective of whether they hold REALTOR® membership personally—or whether their REALTOR® membership is in good standing or is suspended. The only exception to this general rule is where it is the REALTOR® (principal)/MLS Participant who is suspended for not meeting the ethics training requirement. Under such circumstances, continued MLS access is not available to licensees affiliated with a suspended Participant unless participatory privileges are transferred to another principal in the firm. MLS participatory privileges cannot be suspended for REALTOR® (principals) in states where MLSs are required by law to provide MLS participatory rights to nonmembers or where an association has voluntarily opened its MLS to nonmember participation.

What happens if a REALTOR® doesn’t meet the training requirement on time?

Failure to meet the requirement is a violation of a membership duty and will result in suspension of membership for the first two months (January and February) of the year following the end of any two (2) year cycle or until the requirement is met, whichever occurs sooner. On March 1 of that year, the membership of a member who is still suspended as of that date will be automatically terminated.

What if a REALTOR® who is a sole proprietor, partner in a partnership, or corporate officer is suspended for non-compliance?

The consequences of suspension of a REALTOR® who is a sole proprietor, partner or corporate officer are established in associations’ bylaws (generally in Article VI) and vary from association to association based on what their bylaws provide. As a general rule, suspension for failing to meet the training requirement will be treated the same as suspension for violating any other membership duty. Some associations’ bylaws require that the membership of all other principals, partners and corporate officers suspends if any one of them is suspended – unless the suspended member severs her relationship with the firm. Other associations permit the other principals, partners and corporate officers to avoid suspension if the suspended member removes herself from any form or degree of management control of the firm. These are choices each local association makes in establishing their bylaws.

What if the REALTOR® who is suspended is not a principal, partner or corporate officer?

Suspension of such an individual has no effect on the membership status of other REALTOR® members of the firm.

How long can a member be suspended for not completing their REALTORS® ethics training?

Failure to meet the requirement for any two-year cycle will result in suspension of membership for the first two months (January and February) of the year following the end of any two (2) year cycle or until the requirement is met, whichever occurs sooner. On March 1 of that year, the membership of a member who is still suspended as of that date will be automatically terminated.

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